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Jaguar I-PACE Electric Performance SUV Concept

The brand presents its debut electric vehicle in a first-of-its-kind VR experience

by Evan Orensten
on 16 November 2016

Jaguar, never shy about launching its vehicles, debuted the I-PACE, their first electric model, in an elaborate live VR and video experience with 66 people participating in LA and London. The production version of the performance SUV concept will be unveiled next year and is expected in showrooms by the fall of 2018.

There are more than a few I-PACE highlights. It features two electric motors developed in-house, sitting on the front and rear axels. Together they generate 400hp and 516 lb-ft of torque, propelling the four wheel drive SUV to 60 mph in under four seconds. The battery pack’s 90kWh, also developed in house, deliver approximately 220 miles on a charge. British craftsmanship and style abound, delivered in a modern, open and spacious cabin that comfortably seats five and has plenty of cargo space. “Electric vehicles offer designers much greater freedom, and it is an opportunity we must grasp. This is why the I-PACE Concept is developed on a new architecture which has been designed to optimize electric vehicle performance, aerodynamics and interior space,” says Ian Callum, Jaguar’s Director of Design.

Sitting high on its front haunches (an unusual deviation from Jaguar’s bootylicious roots), it nonetheless projects a brand-appropriate athletic, muscular stance, with its cab-forward design presenting an opportunity by not having an engine to worry about. Screens and switches offer the welcome intent of usable and appropriate experience design.

I-PACE’s launch was not just theatrical—with all guests connected to the same shared live VR experience—it was also the first of its kind. Conceived by Imagination and created with HTC Vive, Dell and Rewind, the very complex program came together in only 12 weeks. Russell Hall, the head of the interactive team for automotive at Imagination, notes, “The redefining moment for Jaguar here for changing course into the electric world really demanded an experience that could equal it.”

“When we went into the process, we were feeling like it was a VR experience, but we soon enough felt that it needed to have that social element, and if had that social element it had to be live, and if it had to be live then we had to put video in it, and it became something that had never been done before, which is a live a virtual reality launch with people in London and LA,” explains Solomon Rogers, Rewind’s Founder and CEO, which led the program’s technical development.

Indeed, the well-executed experience was the first of its kind and at this scale, the defining of a new way to launch a product where the people viewing can be all over the world (saving on time and travel and costs to events like these) as well as permitting the hosts and products to be in multiple locations. It also allowed all of us participating to view the car in multiple angles at our own pace, and to be inside the car, simultaneously and without a crowd.

Brought to life on HTC Vive’s VR platform, and released on their Vive Port for anyone with the right gear to experience, it demonstrated the potential for VR beyond gaming. “VR is so visceral, the kinesthetic learning that you get with the interaction and the content in an immersive environment has a really profound impact on how people learn, perceive and act with media,” says Vinay Narayan, HTC Vive’s Executive Director of Product Management and the project lead for the program. He continues, “The technologies that allow you to do it are existing gaming engines that a lot of developers have great experience in. So if you know how to tell a story, if you now how to put together an experience, you can actually create something that’s immersive.”

It’s exciting to witness Jaguar’s first step into alternative powertrains and to see them embracing new ways of experiencing and launching cars as well. We’ll certainly be reporting on the production version when it is announced in 2017. We can’t help but wonder what electric ideas may be in the works with sister company Land Rover.

Slideshow images and screenshot courtesy of Jaguar, all others by Evan Orensten

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